'It was difficult to sleep ... it was cold ... I slept for less than 3 hours'

MINISTER of human settlements and billionaire businessman Tokyo Sexwale has described his night in a cramped shack as an eye-opener.

The minister spent Monday night in Joyce Mashamaite's shack in Diepsloot Extension 1, north of Joburg, to see the plight of the poor for himself.

"It was very difficult getting to sleep (because) it was quite cold. I slept for less than three hours," said Sexwale, who got up at 6am.

Sexwale said as a child he had lived in a shack in Orlando, Soweto, but the experience of being exposed to such squalor again was a "real eye-opener".

After discussions with community leaders at a local restaurant, Sexwale was accompanied to the shack on Pearl Street by two police vehicles and his protection team, who took their positions as he retired for the night.

Early birds heading to work leapt over puddles of sewage unaware that Sexwale lay in a bed metres from their path.

The minister said he was surprised that Diepsloot children did not suffer from hyperthermia.

He warned against people who left their houses to move to shacks close to their work.

"The other challenge is that people would erect shacks on stands where RDP houses were built for them."

Sexwale paid Mashamaite for the accommodation and left to brief Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, head of the government's anti-poverty campaign.